Bain & Company Estimates The Global Advanced Analytics Talent Pool Will Double By 2020–But Bottlenecks Will Persist

According to a new report from Bain & Company, the global advanced analytics talent pool is expected to reach 1 million people, with India alone contributing 200,000, by 2020

Innovation in analytics is a priority for almost every organization today. Yet, bottlenecks in the key areas of talent, data and analytics strategy often block progress. For years, companies have had to draw from a very small pool of analytics talent, made up of a limited supply of analytics professionals and new university graduates. However, new research from Bain & Company finds a workforce on the verge of dramatic change.

To better understand the talent bottleneck and the best way to unleash it, Bain & Company analyzed the global market for analytics talent, both supply and demand, interviewing practitioners and experts, reviewing job boards and professional community listings and studying educational program statistics. Its findings, captured in a new study, Solving the New Equation for Advanced Analytics Talent, estimates that in the next two years the global supply of advanced analytics talent will double from half a million people in 2018 to an estimated 1 million in 2020, brought on by a pivot in traditional and non-traditional education.

“The growth in advanced analytics talent is happening so rapidly it’s hard to find historical precedent,” said Chris Brahm, co-author of the study and a partner with Bain & Company and global leader of the firm’s Technology and Analytics Practice. “And while the US pool will remain the largest market for analytics talent, other global tech powers are quickly gaining ground.”

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The outlook is especially bright in India where two trends are simultaneously expanding the talent pool: the rapid influx of graduates with advanced degrees in subjects like computer science and data science that are suited to advanced analytics work into the country’s workforce, augmented by India’s deep existing ecosystem in information technology, especially in programming and systems integration. By the end of 2020, Bain & Company estimates India will have nearly three times as many candidates for advanced analytics work as it did in 2018, an expansion from 65,000 people to more than 200,000 in just two years. Analytics talent supply will climb in China, Western Europe and North America as well, but not quite as quickly.

This global growth is good news for any forward-thinking company, as innovation in analytics is a priority for almost every organization today and only 30 percent of companies are fully integrated in the space. And yet, according to the report, regional talent bottlenecks will continue to block rapid progress in analytics adoption unless companies implement creative and flexible approaches to global team building.

With companies hiring to create balanced advanced analytics teams, certain skills are in higher demand. For example, in the U.S., Bain & Company research points to a shortage of experienced analytics talent, as well as a shortage of available and qualified data engineers and architects and a possible oversupply of junior data scientists. Most available advanced analytics talent has recently graduated, but people with greater tenure are needed to lead and manage these teams and are in particularly short supply. Many countries will still have fewer analytics experts than needed.

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Additionally, attracting experienced analytic talent away from analytically mature sectors is not likely to be an option for most companies. These early adopters plan to expand their teams fastest, and Bain & Company found that employees are most interested in working for companies with well-established track records in analytics.

Instead, the report suggests that companies can thwart these regional shortages by adopting a multilayered staffing ecosystem approach, including:

  • Building centers of excellence for pools of hired analytics experts and providing flexible work options to attract remote talent.
  • Retraining capable existing employees and giving them access to automation tools. Most companies have shadow analytics talent today and existing employees already know the company, the industry and how to effectively operate across the organization. Many have the quantitative background to learn analytical skills and nearly 25 percent of respondents to Bain & Company’s survey report that their companies have already implemented advanced analytics training programs.
  • Tapping into offshore data hubs, third party service firms and crowdsourcing for other work. Importantly, rather than trying to do everything in-house, a tiered talent strategy can focus a core, in-house analytics team on strategic tasks, while recognizing what work can be outsourced.

This ecosystem approach will make more sense than full vertical integration for many companies given the breadth of advanced analytics expertise likely to be needed in the future.

“Embracing a tiered talent ecosystem will allow companies to tap into the rapidly growing global talent supply, create a more flexible and elastic model, all while leaving room to redeploy existing talent in new and creative ways. Companies cannot afford to let a bottleneck in analytics talent slow them down, and thankfully they won’t have to,” said Brahm.

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